Although several surviving buildings in the townsite of Sutro date from the nineteenth century, the most famous expression of the area's history is its much-photographed tunnel entrance. The tunnel continues to provide passive drainage to the 1,600-foot level of the mines beneath Virginia City, and it is possible to walk hundreds of yards into the precisely excavated tunnel. An elaborate brick facade, coated in plaster and whitewash, decorates the mouth of the tunnel. With its parapet and twin gated portals, the image of the Sutro Tunnel opening has become synonymous with the technological innovations and industrial might of the Comstock. This facade replaced a simpler one in 1888, long after the Comstock mines had slumped and the Sutro Tunnel had failed to realize its creator's expectations.
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